Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dismembering Christmas - Review - @BrandonCSites

Dismembering Christmas (2015) **
D: Austin Bosley
C: Leah Wiseman, Johnathon Krautkramer, Baker Chase Powell, Danielle Doetsch, Nina Kova, Marla Van Lanen, Austin Bosley, Scott Seagren, Shannon McInnis  

Plot Synopsis: At a vacation winter lake house, seven high school seniors are attacked by a madman out for revenge.

Review: It's been said that if something doesn't happen within the first reel, then nothing's going to happen. By the time I hit the 24 minute mark of Dismembering Christmas (which makes up 1/3rd of the running time), nothing had happened. 

By the time I got to the end of the second reel, nothing had happened ...yet again. After nearly 50 minutes, the only thing that's been established is that the characters are staying in a cabin for the Christmas holiday and that someone's picking them off. Some of the characters reveal a little bit about themselves, but these character vignettes come at the price of sacrificing story. 

What I mean by that is, what the characters reveal of themselves doesn't contribute to an actual narrative being told. To give you some perspective, look back at the original Halloween. In that film, we watch as a six year old kid kills his sister for no apparent reason. Fifteen years later, we watch as this kid, now an adult by the name of Michael Myers, escapes from an asylum to return back to his hometown to resume his killing spree with his psychiatrist hot on his heels. 

The doctor talks of trying to reach Myers', but coming to the conclusion that his patient is pure & utter evil. Myers' stalks a group of high school girls for seemingly no reason other then to kill them. What's his motive? Why is he doing this? We witness the final girl (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) stab Michael Myers in the neck, in the eye and, in the climatic finale, his doctor arrives and shoots Michael Myers five times. However, when the doctor goes to look over Myers' body, he's gone. The ending suggests that Myers is indeed evil manifested in the form of a person.

The way that Michael Myers' character was developed also helped to tell a story as well. In Dismembering Christmas, we see two characters who are obviously attracted to one another, but don't follow through on their feelings. We see another character who's spoiled and pampered. There's another character who just wants to have a good time with his friends. My question is this: How do these insights contribute to a story being told other then we get a glimpse of who the characters are and then they're killed? 

Having said that, it would've been easy to outright dismiss Dismembering Christmas, but I can't. While a lot of the interactions between the killer and the victims are indeed rushed, there are certain scenes which are undeniably suspenseful. For example, one set piece has the characters coming across a mysterious figure in the middle of the night.

This set piece has the characters first becoming aware of something being amiss when they notice that the cabin is freezing cold in the middle of the night. They figure out what's causing the house to be cold, but then they notice something else is going on. They poke and prod. The coldness of the winter setting becomes more tangible. The suspense heightens when they discover this mysterious figure. 

This figure, or person, is allowed to be mysterious. We're allowed to see the characters be confused by who this person is and why they're out in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold. A sense of dread and anticipation becomes more palpable and then BOOM! It's a fairly well executed scene because feelings of dread, panic, confusion and terror are allowed to develop.

Some of the people involved with this production made another slasher called Don't Go to the Reunion. That film had a story, but lacked execution. Dismembering Christmas has some well executed moments, but lacks a story. Now, if they could put two and two together and give us both execution & story, they might be onto something. [Not Rated] 74 minutes.

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